Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Naming of Solitary Art

Art's brother, Connla, is sat at the side
of his father on the summit of Uisnech,

Conn Cétchathach, Conn of the Hundred Battles.

Seeing an unfamiliar woman of otherworldly
bearing, beauty, mien, and dress, Connla asks:

'Whence have you come, O maiden unknown to us?'

"From the land of an ever living joy, eternal
faery feast, free from all guilt. A host of Aos Sí

with no inner strife, and harmonious in spirit,
I come from the good people of peace."

'Who are you talking to?' Conn of the Hundred
Battles asks his son; and with none but Connla

seeing the woman wholly spirit, She replies:

"He's talking with the Leanan Sídhe
ever young and beautiful, from a family

of Mag Mell people without old age or death.
I love Connla and am summoning him home

to the Plain of Delights; without sorrow or grief
since Bóadag the everlasting was crowned king.

Come with me, handsome sun-kissed
speckled-cheeked Connla; nut-skin pink-faced,

golden-haired, kingly-hued prince.
Come with me to where beauty and youth does

not perish until druidic judgement day."

All, without seeing her, hear the faery woman.

~

Conn tells his poet:

'O Corann of great druidic art and song
an otherworldly demand has been voiced that is

beyond my capacity to resist. Unprecedented,
a contest in otherworldly forms has now begun.

One that seeks to deceive and seize the mind
of my first born son, and carry off the child

from my kingly land by some Sith's witchcraft.'

Corann chanted a geisa that in everyone's ear
and in Connla's, silenced the woman’s voice,

and from his eyes she disappeared out of form.

As she left she threw to Connla an apple,
and thereafter the prince fell silent. Left

with only a longing to meet again the eternal
ever-living She his ear and eye had briefly

apprehended; dreaming alone of her, he nourishes
solely on the apple; and the very act of eating

it, keeps the otherworldly apple whole.

For a month without food or drink, and fed only
on Her magic fruit, his longing for this once

seen woman of the Sídhe deepens with every bite.

~

On the morning a month after; Connla is at his

father’s side in the plain of Arcommin,
when She appears, approaches, stops and & speaks:

"Grandly Connla again you sit surrounded
by the short-lived, hopelessly awaiting death.

The ever-living folk want you with us, earthly
mortal champion of the beings who behold you

daily in assemblies on your father's island.
You amidst family and friends. Me your beloved."

As Conn Cétchathach hears the woman’s voice
he tells a retinue of twelve druidic courtiers:

'Get the poet to me. The silence his spell set,
the geisa, has been today cast off from her.'

Whereupon She said:

"O Conn of the Hundred Battles, do not love
druidry. Presently the wise Queen’s fair noble

and righteous one with many wondrous followers
will reach Her judgements. Our law soon will

come to you. It will destroy all the base-taught
spells of bards without learning facing the dark

bewitching Devil softly whispering spoken song." 

Conn is perturbed that Connla will only speak
when the spirit woman from Mag Mell is present.

'Have the words of this Sidhe woman gone under
your mind, O Connla?' asks his son, who replies:

'Not easy is it for me here. I love our people
yet a madman's whisp of desire for this woman

has seized and now consumes me.'

She says:

"Come Connla encounter and fulfill your longing
away from here, towards the sea. Sail a crystal

boat and find the peace of Bóadag with me
on another isle, not the nearest one to reach.

Look the sun is setting, and though far, Mag
Mell, the land of eternal beauty joy and youth,

we shall by nightfall be where the mind of all
whom the island encompasses, it gladdens.

No race but beautiful women and maidens there.”

Thereupon Connla leaps from this earthly realm
and into a pure crystal coracle and ships his mind

and body off to an eternity of joy, watched
by mournful eyes as far as their vision could

follow the flight of Connla's imramm-voyage over
the sea, to where they are not seen thereafter.

Conn then said on seeing Art, 'Art is alone
today, because here he has no more a brother.'

'What you have said is an utterance of substance.'
Said Corann.'

“The name upon him forever is Art the Solitary.”

Thus it was how this name was struck and stuck
to him hereafter and forevermore.

~

Echtra Condla. The Adventures of Connla the Fair. Lebor na hUidre. Book of the Dun Cow. With thanks to Kim McCone's, and all the other translations, consulted when working up this poem.

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